Where Do the Mermaids Stand?

Where Do the Mermaids Stand?

From Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul

Where Do the Mermaids Stand?

What is right for one soul may not be right for another. It may mean having to stand on your own and do something strange in the eyes of others.

Eileen Caddy

Giants, Wizards and Dwarfs was the game to play.

Being left in charge of about 80 children 7 to 10 years old, while their parents were off doing parenty things, I mustered my troops in the church social hall and explained the game. It’s a large-scale version of Rock, Paper and Scissors, and involves some intellectual decision making. But the real purpose of the game is to make a lot of noise and run around chasing people until nobody knows which side you are on or who won.

Organizing a roomful of wired-up grade-schoolers into two teams, explaining the rudiments of the game, achieving consensus on group identity—all of this is no mean accomplishment, but we did it with a right good will and were ready to go.

The excitement of the chase had reached a critical mass. I yelled out: “You have to decide now which you are—a GIANT, a WIZARD or a DWARF!”

While the groups huddled in frenzied, whispered consultation, a tug came at my pant leg. A small child stands there looking up, and asks in a small concerned voice, “Where do the Mermaids stand?”

Where do the Mermaids stand?

A long pause. A very long pause. “Where do the Mermaids stand?” says I.

“Yes. You see, I am a Mermaid.”

“There are no such things as Mermaids.”

“Oh yes there is, I am one!”

She did not relate to being a Giant, a Wizard or a Dwarf. She knew her category, Mermaid, and was not about to leave the game and go over and stand against the wall where a loser would stand. She intended to participate, wherever Mermaids fit into the scheme of things, without giving up dignity or identity. She took it for granted that there was a place for Mermaids and that I would know just where.

Well, where do the Mermaids stand? All the Mermaids—all those who are different, who do not fit the norm, and who do not accept the available boxes and pigeonholes?

Answer that question and you can build a school, a nation or a world on it.

What was my answer at the moment? Every once in a while I say the right thing. “The Mermaid stands right here by the King of the Sea!” (Yes, right here by the King’s Fool, I thought to myself.)

So we stood there hand in hand, reviewing the troops of Wizards and Giants and Dwarfs as they rolled by in wild disarray.

It is not true, by the way, that Mermaids do not exist. I know at least one personally. I have held her hand.

Robert Fulghum
Submitted by Rashaun C. Geter

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